The army of salvation has been launched. The names are familiar. It would have been naive to have expected something different. The battle against fire-spitting demons of corruption and ineptitude perhaps cannot be left to holy novices. The names may not inspire confidence. But we must be patient. The Obasanjo letter may have left an impression of urgency and new ideas. The Coalition looks like sour old wine in a new bottle. But we must be patient. A bunch of Sauls of Tarsus could become Pauls. But they must not disown their past. Or whitewash their iniquities. They must show visible contrition and tangible atonements. So that their new claim to righteousness would have some meaning.
Obasanjo is the field Marshall. It would appear that the letter to Buhari was timed to instigate premeditated political chain of events. It could be calculation and not manipulation. But even that denies that letter some altruism and makes it a little opportunistic. Since Obasanjo and company now seek public acceptance they must submit themselves once again to thoroughgoing public scrutiny. I understand we must concentrate on the message and not the messengers. The problem with the biblical pharisees was not their reputation and apparent godliness. It was the character of external ritual purity that amounted to interior spiritual filthiness. They could have been helped if they were forced into some soul searching.
Any force filled with many Obasanjos would be hard working and perhaps purposeful. But it would be dogged by egocentrism, manipulativeness and utter selfishness. Except of course there has been a significant character reformation. A group championed by Obasanjo would take national unity seriously and seek fair play across the groups. But it would victimize political opponents and circumvent laid down procedures to service egos and exigencies. The nation needs a third force. But the public must help with vigilance.
The leaders of this coalition must be forced to publicly acknowledge their past sins, and must be nudged to present a clear redemptive vision for the future Obasanjo claims integrity. And the coalition depends on it. So that we can interrogate the claims and assumptions to understand their message for the future. Obasanjo fought corruption. But it was under his watch that the EFCC learnt to instigate the impeachment of governors with a minority of members of the states’ legislature.
Obasanjo tried to improve the power situation. But it was under his watch that billions of dollars were wasted power projects that yielded little or no power. The power probes have died frustrating deaths. Yes, we cannot remain fixated on the past. But we must ask Obasanjo whether he comes now with a new heart or whether he has come to breed more Chris Ubas. It was under Obasanjo that votes counted for nothing and Maurice Iwu , the electoral umpire, became a factor in Imo governorship election.
If General Abacha were alive and came back as part of this expeditionary force we would have asked him if the monies found in those Swiss accounts were actually stolen or were there as national assets in safe custody. Then perhaps he could win our hearts by arguing that old things have passed away and that he has repented and would use his Swiss skills to become a national thief catcher.
Obasanjo must address us in a similar vein. We know Mantu may return and Mr ‘fix it’ may come out of retirement. Adedibu has passed on. Obasanjo would have to tell us if he would deploy them to man Aso rock Chaplain, to use their personal testimonies and repented hearts to teach people the sinfulness of crass opportunism. Or whether they would return with intrigues and unscrupulousness to the theatre of national politics. No one who has come to repentance is useless. A few Agberos have retired from Obalende and taken up new roles and become neighborhood vigilantes. What matters is change of heart. But how would Obasanjo get his leopards to change their spots.
It is difficult to know where a forum called by Olagunsoye Onyilola would start. They could have asked Duke and Ezekwesili to stand in front. Then Duke could’ve told us that he has learnt a thing or two about white elephant projects and due diligence. Ezekwesili could tell us that she has matured enough to hold a benefactor as accountable as she would hold opponents. Because if she were as vocal then as she is now, she would have called out Obasanjo and his third term subterfuge and perhaps resigned. Ezekwesili is refreshing, though.
The coalition is swelling. Too many ‘short term’ people, not familiar with long-suffering. They would come with hopes of instant success. They would come with greed and opportunism. Jostling and elbowing will ensue. Public service here must be lubricated by selfish gains and aims. So before the frontier force gets to the actual battle field it must survive series of internecine squabbles. If its moral compass is flimsy, it would submit to expediency to find any success. Then it would become another PDP. It’s good to be optimistic. But without an enduring political culture and without a backbone of tradition, where would such a force find the minds and hands to resist easy recourse to survivalism.
They are congregating—doves, eagles, vultures and vampires. The frontier force can only succeed if it can inspire hope. But you never can tell. They could become possessed by a surge of patriotism and they could surprise themselves. The jackals of yesterday and some hungry hyenas of today, they are stealthy and furtively enlisting into the force. If the frontier force is to have any appealing reputation its Simon the sorcerer and Jezebel collection must be relegated to its back benches. But who will sit in front? The force must find a passionate Joshua, dirty but without blood stained or infected hands. It must find a Paul, some Barnabases and many a Timothy.
If the Obasanjo frontier force becomes a political party of national relevance then it would have achieved a lot. Then it would no longer matter that they came as angels on a rescue mission and ended up like everyone else in the rut. The nation needs more national parties to help entrench true freedom. If the force ends up after so much promise as a another watchdog, then it would not be said to have ended wretchedly. Because the nation needs a strong virile civil society. The frontier force must watch, pray , choose its path deliberately and march on.
The battle will be won by diligence, dedication and thoughtfulness built on a sound moral foundation.